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Title: Dissecting the Inner Life: Body and Soul, Medicine and Metaphor in the Carolingian Era
Authors: Leja, Meg
Advisors: Reimitz, Helmut
Contributors: History Department
Keywords: Carolingian
History of the Body
Subjects: Medieval history
Issue Date: 2015
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: This dissertation investigates the intersections between the art of medicine and the directives of the Carolingian reforms in the first half of the ninth century. It does so by analyzing conceptions of the relationship between the body and soul. Through an examination of ninth-century manuscripts preserving classical medical learning, and a comparison of this corpus with other contemporary literary endeavors, the dissertation argues for a broad understanding of ninth-century medicine. The Carolingians’ approach to medicine sheds light on serious moral and spiritual concerns of the period and helps us understand more fully the extent to which the Carolingians transformed the late antique legacy they inherited to create an enduring tradition. The first half of the dissertation examines how the connection between the soul and the body shaped understandings of medical practice. Chapter One shows how ninth-century intellectuals wrestled with the ambiguities of adopting pre-Christian scholarship and crafted eloquent justifications of the study and practice of medicine. Chapter Two analyzes the qualifications that underpinned a doctor’s work; though texts on this subject reveal an ideal type more than they elucidate a social reality, they nevertheless show us the mechanisms by which Carolingian society deemed that the care of the body could be undertaken in an orthodox manner. If the first two chapters consider the limits and possibilities of intervention on the body, Chapters Three and Four turn to the dynamics of the bond between the body and the soul. Chapter Three focuses on the means by which the soul adhered to the body and, correspondingly, how its condition could be assessed by the state of the body. Chapter Four considers the type of governance that the elite deemed the soul should exert over the body. By analyzing trends within spiritual manuals composed for the laity, it charts an intensifying perception that the body ought to exist in a state of harmony with the soul. Chapter Five focuses on medical texts and the possibilities they provided for properly governing the body. My goal is to show how firmly such texts were integrated within the imaginative repertoire of the Carolingian correctio.
Alternate format: The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog:
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:History

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